Words by: Beth Fitzgerald
I worry about my children. I worry about them getting home safely, I worry about them drinking and doing drugs, and I worry about them hanging with the wrong crowd. My husband worries about finances. He worries about paying for college, he worries about paying for weddings, (we have 3 girls), and he worries about working until the end of time because he is still paying for colleges and weddings! My husband worries so much that he wakes up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep. At least 2-3 nights out of each week he will get about four hours of sleep, worries for three more hours, and then showers and goes to work.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This repeated behavior is not healthy and takes a toll both mentally and physically.
Worry is a destructive state of mind. By definition, worry is giving way to anxiety or unease; allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. It is fact that thoughts can only be positive or negative. You cannot be happily worried or joyfully fearful. Worry is clearly a negative thought; Negative thoughts manifest in the mind and begin to deteriorate health and happiness. Worry penetrates everything, mind, body, and spirit.
After worry has surreptitiously manifested itself in the mind (and ultimately in the body as well), it then has an amazing ability to grow in intensity. As a result, worry is a disease within ourselves and we should be doing everything possible to eliminate worry from our daily lives.
Worry is mentally living in the past or the future but not the present.
When worry dominates our conscious mind, we no longer operate from intelligence. It is as if our intelligence has been eclipsed by worry. The good news is, although our intelligence has been overshadowed, it has not been destroyed or eliminated. Our intelligence is simply inactivated and it became inactivated by our own choice.
So how can we break the cycle of worry?
The answer to overcoming worry is to use our brain! Tap into our intelligence! This answer is simple but not necessarily easy. Within our thinking mind resides intelligence, reason, willpower, intuition, and instinct. Worry does not want our brain to get involved. Worry is happiest when our brain just allows worry to run free. Once we engage the brain, worry will soon have to take a back seat.
Below are three easy steps to activate our brain and overcome worry forever. Remember, the steps are simple but not necessarily easy. I will use college planning as an example but if college planning is not your worry, then substitute another financial or any concern.
- Ascertain. Ascertain the root cause of your worry. Example: I do not have all the money set aside for college for all my children at this point in my life.
- Eliminate. Use your thinking mind (intelligence, reason, wisdom, willpower, etc…) to rationally eliminate the worry. Example: I have some money saved for college and I am assuming none of my children get any scholarships. I will continue to work for at least 12-15 more years during which time I will be making money to put toward college educations. Midway through this journey, my house will be paid off and I will have extra cash flow. If need be, my children can take loans for college. I could also earmark colleges that are within my budget to make it more affordable. The children may need to go to a state school so it is more affordable.
- Accept. Example: Sometimes I allow my mind to worry about thoughts I have no control over in regard to college planning like what if I get let go from my job. When ideas like this enter my mind I will accept that I have no control over these things and worrying about them serves no purpose.
Some worries cannot be eliminated with intelligent thought and reason, so those worries need to be accepted. This is where “simple but not easy” comes to play.
Worries are NOT real. Worries are a product of our wild imagination. It would really be wonderful if our imagination spent as much time actively imagining wonderful, prosperous, amazing things and not fixating on the negative.
So we worry because we are smart. Yes, smart enough to create some wildly amazing scenarios. We are also smart enough to use that fabulous brain of ours to look our fear straight in the eye and think logically about ways to eliminate it. Ironically, 40% of what we worry about will NEVER happen, 30% of what we worry about has already happened, 12% is needless worry about health, 10% is about what people think, and 8% are legitimate fears that can be dealt with accordingly.
In addition to facing our fears, it is also advisable to keep a daily gratitude journal, it will counter balance our worries and unlike worries, the things we are grateful for are 100% real.
Beth Fitzgerald is a certified life coach in Princeton, NJ. Beth was formerly the sales manager for Oppenheimer Funds in New York City. She also worked for Prudential in portfolio management. Prior to life coaching, Beth spent her whole career in the financial industry. She now writes, speaks, and consults full time. She is married and has 4 children. For more information visit: http://www.fitzgeraldlifecoaching.com/